By Jim Larkin
FLINT – Allen Biles went through one exorcism, 11 baptisms and too many counseling sessions before deciding he could no longer fight who he was.
“I didn’t want to be gay. I was determined to not be gay,” said the new president of the Genesee County PFLAG chapter. “But finally there comes a day of reckoning.”
For Biles, 48, that day came at church, when a pastor spoke about serving the Lord in spirit and truth and Biles said he felt filled with the Holy Spirit. He divorced his wife of 17 years several months later, took custody of his six children and leaned on Genesee County PFLAG to help him in his coming out process.
“PFLAG was very beneficial to me in my coming out process,” Biles said. “Their friendship and support really helped me.”
So as Biles starts his two-year term as PFLAG president – he took over for Carol Walker in February – he stresses the importance of PFLAG’s mission to help those coming out as gay, lesbian, or transgender people.
“I want the community at large to know that PFLAG is here to not only support people in the coming out process, but also their friends and family,” he noted. “I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t know there is a local chapter.”
The Genesee County chapter has been in existence since 2002 and has about 40 dues-paying members. Biles’ goal is to double that number in the next two years.
A member of Woodside Church, he also wants others to know that it is possible to be openly Christian and openly gay – although he admits his own difficulty in reconciling the two. He was well aware of five passages in the Bible that prohibit homosexuality, but it wasn’t until “deep investigation of the text” and the culture that he discovered if people took those passages literally, they also had abide by other passages requiring the stoning of men who shave, women who cut their hair and prohibiting the eating of shellfish.
“It cracks me up when people refer to my lifestyle as sick and abnormal,” he said. “Just what part of my life is sick and abnormal?”
He said his day consists of getting his children up in the morning, making their meals, home schooling them, running his independent Xango distributorship out of his home and the same minor details facing other families. Four of his six children, who range in age from 12-28, are still at home, with his eldest son, Allen, being in the Army and scheduled to leave for Iraq in July.
“My children are my world,” he said. “My whole life is taking care of my children and trying to be a good parent. I have great kids. There are all wonderful, well adjusted people.”
Although Biles leads a life akin to many others, he has had numerous experiences that set him apart from many gay, lesbian and transgender people. He comes from a very conservative background and helped birth his last four children at home. He also home schooled them, calls himself neither a Democrat nor Republican but a “Constitutionalist” and was once assistant director of a Right to Life chapter in Florida.
“It goes back to my love of children,” he said, referring to his stand against abortion.
But he said differences should be celebrated, not be causes for division.
“I wish people would put their prejudices away at all levels,” he said. “Beneath the skin, we all bleed red and we are all created by the Lord, Jesus Christ.
“If people came to realize that, we’d all live happier lives and the world would be a better place.”
Genesee County PFLAG meets the second Sunday of every month from 2-4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Flint, 2474 S. Ballenger Highway.
Membership applications are available at each meeting.
Annual memberships are: students 21 and under, $10; individuals, $35; household, $45; supporting member, $50; contributing member, $100; sponsoring member, $500; lifetime member, $1,000.
Questions: Contact [email protected]